After my opening blog post, and to my considerable surprise, a number of you got back in touch so as to learn more of the story and history behind Castleview House. Back in 2011 at the time of purchase, I too had been keen to know more as to quite how these honest Kirkcudbright but and bens had sunk into the state that they were in.
Originally a row of three cottages at ground level only and built towards 1800 in the tradition two-room style, the property in Millburn Street lay outside the then town boundaries and formed part of an industrial community. Little is known of the history of its journey through the 19th Century ahead of its upward extension around 1900, but local gossip suggests that it may have gained notoriety as a “honeymoon hotel” at some point.
After the First World War, a family of Irish coal merchants, the McConnells moved in with the house becoming their depot. The patriarch Moses’ demise is commemorated in the stamp located in our Loft Room – he sadly died in a fall from his coal wagon, perhaps after drink had been taken in one of the town’s many hostelries, and the family gravestone can now be found in Kirkcudbright Cemetery.
However, Castleview House’s most distinguished occupant arrived in the 1950’s when a London banker Mr. Sproat-Williamson, purchased the now much sub-divided property as a retirement home for two family retainers.
Once they had moved on, the structure was then transformed into Masonic Lodge No. 41 of the Kilwinning Ayrshire Branch, reflecting Kirkcudbright’s strong links with the Protestant faith in general and, presumably, Sproat-Williamson’s background in particular, and it functioned as such for nearly 50 years until 2007 when numbers declined and money ran out.
A rare archive of Masonic memorabilia can be found in the Heritage Neuk on the first floor (see image left).
A full photographic record of the conversion to today’s 5-star luxury self-catering environment is also available to view.
A main feature of this was the re-instatement – yes! – of a ceiling that ran the length of the house and which had been removed to create the essential Masonic Temple.
This massive piece of work allowed the building to operate once more on three levels and to return to its former status and, whilst I am happy to report that there are no recorded sightings to date of ghostly presences, it would be interesting indeed to be able to delve back in time and learn more of the goings-on at the top of the town.
Stay tuned for more musings coming shortly!
~ Peter Duncan